1948 Smog 75th YEAR OF REMEMBRaNCE 2023

last updated 02/26/24

1948 Smog 75th Year of Remembrance - 2023 marks the 75th year of the infamous Smog of 1948. We will have a series of events over the course of this year to mark the anniversary and remember those victims who lost their lives during that fateful week in October of 1948.
In Remembrance:
                         Ivan Ceh                                    Susan Gnora                       Andrew Odelga                         Barbara Chinchar                     Milton Hall                           Ida Orr                         Taylor Circle                              Emma Hobbs                      Thomas Short                         John Cunningham                    Ignace Hollowiti                  Peter Starcovich                         Bernardo Di Sanza                   George Hvizdak                   Perry Stevens                         Michael Dorincz                        Jane Kirkwood                    Sawka Trubalis                         William Gardiner                       Marcel Kraska                     John West
The 1948 Donora Smog Disaster - The Donora Works of American Steel and Wire Company stretched nearly three miles along the Monongahela River thirty miles south of Pittsburgh. Within the industrial complex, that employed over eight thousand, were Blast Furnaces, Open Hearths, a Blooming Mill, Rod Mill, Wire Works, Nail Mill, Acid Plant and the largest Zinc Works in the world. The red, black, white and yellow smoke pouring from the Works frequently forced streetlamps and headlights to burn twenty-four hours a day. As the week before Halloween 1948 began the people of Donora were focusing on a parade, a football game, "Trick or Treat" and a national election. No one could know that a severe temperature inversion had settled over the valley. By Wednesday visibility was as limited as anyone could remember, plus many people were having difficulty breathing. The effluent from the mill that was typically carried away by prevailing wind currents reached the ceiling of the inversion and fell back to earth in the stagnant atmosphere. The weekend was a nightmare. Thousands were ill, hundreds needed medical attention, and by Monday morning nineteen were dead. The Donora Smog Disaster was a wakeup call to years of ignoring the deadly effects of industrial pollution. The incident sparked a conflict that continues to shape the political and economic debate, not only in the United States but, around the world, between industrial and economic interests and pioneers for the protection of the environment and public health.
A Message From LIEUTENANT GOVENORAUSTIN A. DAVIS
We have a message made for the Donora Historical Society from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Govenor's office through Lieutenant Govenor Austin Davis. Lieutenant Govenor Austin Davis is the youngest lieutenant governor in the country and the first Black lieutenant governor in Commonwealth history. His wife and Second Lady of Pennsylvania is Donora-native Blayre Holmes Davis.
December 14, 2022
On December 14, 2022, the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) virtual webinar (90 minutes) featured a discussion about the 1948 Smog and titled, "Making the Connection: What the Donora Smog Disaster Can Teach Us 74 Years Later" that featured Brian Charlton from the Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum, Scott Beveridge, a retired, award-winning investigative journalist from the Observer-Reporter newspaper in Washington County, and Myranda Fullerton, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service. To see the webinar, click - GASP: Donora Smog Disaster or click below.
February 22, 2023
THE WASHINGTON POST
News Article
The Washington Post wrote an article on February 22, 2023, comparing the 1948 Smog and the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment that occurred on February 3, 2022, with a controlled release or burn on February 6, 2023. The article was written by Cassondra Hanna, a predoctoral student at the University of Virginia and a native of Pittsburgh, and is titled The air pollution disaster that echoes in the Ohio train derailment and can be read here.
April 1, 2023
DONORA DEATH FOG
Book Signing
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Venue - Perked Up Cafe
530 McKean Avenue, Charleroi
McPhee with a customer
DONORA DEATH FOG
Book Signing
4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Venue - Little City Coffee
418 W Main St., Monongahela
McPhee with victim Peter Starcovich's granddaughter
April 2, 2023
DONORA DEATH FOG
Book Signing
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Venue - Donora Public Library
510 Meldon Avenue, Donora
McPhee with longtime Donora doctor Dr. Dimitri Petro
DONORA DEATH FOG - Clean Air and the Tragedy of a Pennsylvania Mill Town
by Andy McPheepublished in 2023 by University of Pittsburgh Press Comprehensive historical non-fiction book about the founding of Donora in 1901 through the six-day smog event in 1948 that left twenty-one people dead and thousands sick. 299 pages - softback bookmeasures 6" by 9"  $25.00
In October 1948, a seemingly average fog descended on the tiny mill town of Donora, Pennsylvania. With a population of fewer than fifteen thousand, the town’s main industry was steel and zinc mills—mills that continually emitted pollutants into the air. The six-day smog event left twenty-one people dead and thousands sick. Even after the fog lifted, hundreds more died or were left with lingering health problems. Donora Death Fog details how six fateful days in Donora led to the nation’s first clean air act in 1955, and how such catastrophes can lead to successful policy change. Andy McPhee tells the very human story behind this ecological disaster: how wealthy industrialists built the mills to supply an ever-growing America; how the town’s residents—millworkers and their families—willfully ignored the danger of the mills’ emissions; and how the gradual closing of the mills over the years following the tragedy took its toll on the town. 
Listen to author Andy McPhee's interview on The Allegheny Front that aired on WESA radio in Pittsburgh on April 3, 2023.
About the AuthorRetired nurse and publisher now writing nonfiction books about tragic events in history. Author of four young adult books, more than 750 health, life, and earth science articles, and publisher of more than sixty healthcare text and reference books. Consultant and Fellow of the National Writing Project. Winner of two Feature Writing awards from the Association of Educational Publishers, now a division of the American Association of Publishers. Lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two dogs.
May 12, 2023
1948 SMOG PRESENTATION FOR
CENTER FOR COALFIELD JUSTICE
The Center for Coalfield Justice visited the SMOG MUSEUM on Friday, May 12 to learn more about our area's environmental history. Ten employees (see photo below) spent an afternoon in Donora for a lengthy overview of the 1948 Smog and stimulating discussion on who the Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) is and what they do, along with a tour of the museum, a lunch and Q&A on Donora's infamous smog event.
CCJ is a women-owned environmental justice non-profit from Washington, Pa. fighting for a clean environment and healthy communities in Washington and Greene Counties.
Their MissionTo improve policy and regulations for the oversight of fossil fuel extraction and use; to educate, empower and organize coalfield residents; and to protect public and environmental health.
Their approach is by working with area residents and valuing their knowledge about the land, waterways, and communities. Their recognition of local expertise is grounded in the belief that people who live with the daily impacts of fossil fuel extraction should be treated with the utmost respect. Their work is informed and directed by how local people think these industries should be held accountable for impacts.
They provide community members with detailed information about proposed projects and potential impacts so they can make informed decisions about individual or collective actions. They connect people in similar struggles together to build power and to invest in the leadership of people living in Washington and Greene Counties. 
By blending organizing and legal work, they seek to create an expanded set of options for achieving justice than might be produced by following solely a legal or organizing approach. Through this approach, and by investing in people’s skills and leadership, their communities will be able to advocate effectively for a healthy environment and thriving economy. 
In the photo above is a group of ten CENTER FOR COALFIELD JUSTICE employees on their visit to the Smog Museum. 
May 19, 2023
DONORA RIVERFRONT CLEANUP
4:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
In partnership with Allegheny CleanWaysThree Rivers Waterkeeper and M&N Heating and Cooling.
ALLEGHENY CLEANWAYS
Allegheny CleanWays’ primary goal is to clean up illegal dumpsites and litter both on land and in waterways throughout Allegheny County and beyond.
Mission - Allegheny CleanWays is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2000 to "engage and empower people to eliminate illegal dumping and littering in Allegheny County."
Vision - A clean, beautiful, and safe county for everyone.
The Tireless Project - Riverbank Cleanup
Their primary water-based cleanup program, The Tireless Project, is aimed at getting Allegheny County residents engaged with the local rivers and streams through cleaning up debris that accumulates along the shorelines. Using their 28-foot pontoon boat, Rachel Carson, their team works with volunteers to remove trash and educates them about issues affecting our waterways.
Three Rivers Waterkeeper - a close partner with Allegheny CleanWays.
Mission - is to protect the water quality of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers, and their respective watersheds.
Vision - is to have drinkable, fishable, swimmable water in the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers, and their respective watersheds.
M & N Heating and Cooling - a reliable, experienced and affordable locally owned by Max Noel and Natalie Botsko with over 17 years of experience working in the Mon Valley and Pittsburgh region on furnaces, air conditioners, mini-splits, hot water tanks and more.
Natalie Botsko and Max Noel have graciously volunteered their time and effort to help organize our Mon River cleanup in Donora. They are experienced in these events and we welcome their expertise.
LOGISTICS:
TO SIGNUP - Donora: Monongahela River Cleanup - Donora.
TO SIGNUP - Monongahela: Two days after the Mon River Cleanup in Donora on May 21 will be the Mon City Trash Bash. The Trash Bash schedule is different than the schedule below.
STARTING POINT: 65 Washington Street in the Donora Industrial Park. The Industrial Park can be entered at First, Sixth or Eighth Streets by crossing the railroad tracks. Continue South on Washington Street toward the Stan Musial Bridge to the Apex North America parking lot. The Allegheny CleanWays registration tent will be directly across the street toward the Mon River.
REGISTRATION BEGINS: 4:30 p.m.
AGES: 16+
CLEANUP STARTS: 5:00 p.m.
CLEANUP ENDS:  7:30 p.m.
T-SHIRTS: T-shirts to the first 40 volunteers. See our T-shirt logo to the right and the 100-year-old photo above used for inspiration. Printed by UNITEE PROMOTIONS of Donora.
DINNER: 8:00 p.m. Pizza and refreshments will be served at the Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum located at 595 McKean Avenue (Sixth Street and McKean Avenue.)
CLEAN SHOES: If your shoes get muddy or wet during the cleanup, please bring a change of shoes before you enter the Smog Museum for dinner.
GLOVES, SAFETY VESTS and LIFE JACKETS: Provided by Allegheny CleanWays.
DONORA RIVERFRONT CLEANUP RECAP

0 INCIDENTS1 ATM MACHINE2 RIVERFRONTS5 MILES6 BOATS18 TIRES45 PICKERS2,352 POUNDS
In the photo above are most of the 45 volunteers that showed up on Friday evening, May 19 for the Donora Riverfront Cleanup.
We weren't quite sure what we were getting into when we partnered with Allegheny CleanWays for our Donora Riverfront Cleanup on Friday evening, May 19, 2023, event as part of our schedule of events for the 1948 Smog 75th Year of Remembrance, but we were ready to dive in (no pun intended) regardless.

PHYSICAL CHALLENGES
Challenged by an extremely unforgiving Donora shoreline due to slag being dumped over a century ago to build up the sea wall by American Steel and Wire so the mill wouldn't flood, along with some of the remaining boat docking infrastructure for offloading all the ingredients needed to make steel and zinc that didn't arrive by railroad, we originally weren't sure if we could cover much ground and actually make a difference with our cleanup efforts. The photos below show some of those structures along the Donora riverbank.
LET THE CLEANUP BEGIN
True to their word, Hannah Hohman (Water-Based Program Coordinator) and Evan Clark (Boat Captain) of Allegheny CleanWays (see the photo to the right) arrived in Donora on Friday afternoon, May 19, 2023, with their flotilla of six boats (see the boat photo below) to begin their three-week sojourn of cleaning up the Monongahela River banks from Donora to Pittsburgh. They moored their boats close to the Stan "The Man" Musial bridge and right on the Donora riverbank and went right to work preparing for our event that would start later that afternoon.
On June 5, 2023, the Pittsburgh UNION PROGRESS wrote an article on - Hannah Hohman and Allegheny CleanWays are cleaning their way down the Mon River.
PREPLANNING BEFORE THE VOLUNTEERS ARRIVED
To see where we could potentially drop off volunteers safely on the shore for the cleanup event, we first did a reconnaissance run up and down the river in the Allegheny CleanWays shuttle boat (see the photo to the right).
We then set up a volunteer registration tent at the top of the boat launch by the industrial park road with Allegheny CleanWays Executive Director Myrna Newman.
We also made notes of legacy trash that had been on the Donora riverbank for years and more modern trash. Legacy trash is shown below in the two photos on the far left and second from the right - both buried tires. More modern trash is shown below in the two photos on the far right and second from the left.
VOLUNTEERS
And then the volunteers start to trickle in. 
While we had a great weather day, this was a Friday evening. Who was actually going to show up? Online pre-registration numbers suggested we could get 20-30 total volunteers but were expecting some no-shows and some walk-ups so had no real clue how many would attend.
Did we say this was a Friday evening? 
As they arrived, we got everyone registered and equipped with gloves and their event T-shirts at the volunteer tent (see the photo to the right.) 
And yet the volunteers continued to come. 
When we finally got started with Hannah and Evan from Allegheny CleanWays reviewing the safety rules about boating and trash pickup and what we were going to do and how we were going to safely do it (see the photo to the right), we had around 45 volunteers, an overwhelming volunteer turnout.
While some volunteers were from Donora, others traveled from the North Hills and Gibsonia and all places in between. We even had a nice group from Washington County Juvenile Probation who were able to register community service hours.
DRONE FOOTAGE
Sammy Kowall - Mon Valley Drone owner and pilot was on hand for the event to shoot drone footage used in the video below.
LET'S GET STARTED AND PICK UP SOME GARBAGE!
By 5:00 p.m., we were ready to officially get started and proceeded back down to the river to start the first phase of cleanup which was right there on the shore. 45 volunteers made short work of cleaning up the only real flat area and access to the river that spanned a few hundred yards. There was "legacy" trash (old - had been there for maybe decades) that was dug up like tires and barrels and more modern trash from people hanging out at the river, as well as an abandoned homeless camp. All trash was piled by the shoreline to be picked up later that evening. The three photos below on the left and middle are from the Donora riverbank, while the two photos below on the right are from the Webster riverbank. The upper photo on the right below is an abandoned ATM machine.
Boat Captain Evan then fired up one of the shuttle boats and Hannah did the same on the Rachel Carson pontoon boat, volunteers secured their life jackets and boarded the boat to be shuttled to various locations along the riverbank (see the photos below.) Trash was gathered and piled up on the riverbank and the shuttling of volunteers continued. Within a couple of hours, most of the volunteers were brought back to shore and the trash pile collection began so that it all could be brought back to our home base and offloaded to a trash pontoon boat - the Garbage Barge. We went back to each pile by boat and collected everything from more tires and barrels to things like mattresses, plastic bottles, sports balls, construction debris, even a discarded ATM machine (nope - NO money.) All of the trash was hauled away by Allegheny CleanWays to be weighed, counted, sorted and recycled where feasible.
PIZZA AT THE SMOG MUSEUM
While some of the now wet and muddy volunteers got cleaned up and made their way back to the Smog Museum to get some pizza and tour of the facility, others remained to offload the trash. The pizza was purchased from Anthony's Italiano - a Donora pizzeria.
Everything was completed by 8:30 p.m. and the remaining volunteers made their way back to the museum for their share of pizza and to unwind and discuss the incredible evening. In the photo to the right, Allegheny CleanWays Executive Director Myrna Newman (orange T-shirt) is shown with some of the volunteers.
The Allegheny CleanWays flotilla with Hannah and Evan spent the night on their boats right here in Donora.
IMPACT
Because we had no clue of what sort of impact we could actually make on our Donora riverfront due to the physical challenges mentioned above, we were hoping to cover half of the Donora shoreline, roughly a mile or so. But because of the number of passionate volunteers, swiftness of the shuttle boats and expertise of Hannah and Evan of Allegheny CleanWays, we were able to cover the entire 2.5 miles of Donora shoreline. As impressive as that sounds, not only did we do that, but we also were able to clean up the opposite or Webster shoreline too. That made 5 miles of now clean riverfront.
The amount of trash that was collected totaled an astounding 2,352 pounds that included 18 tires.
However, the most important total that we had for the evening was zero (0) injuries. That's Zero with a big Z!
Did we get every bit of trash? No, but we think we got a great majority.
The photos below show how the trash was brought back and offloaded to trash boats to be hauled down river.
MONONGAHELA RIVERFRONT CLEANUP - TRASH BASH
On Saturday, May 20, the rains came so Hannah and Evan had a chance to rest and finally visit the Smog Museum. 
After, they drove their fleet to Monongahela to continue their cleanup for the Trash Bash event on Sunday afternoon, May 21 headed up by two people who were very instrumental in helping us define our Donora Riverfront Cleanup - Natalie Botsko and Max Noel. Some of our volunteers also volunteered for the Sunday Trash Bash which enabled us to return the favor to Natalie and Max. Monongahela too was blessed with a generous volunteer turnout that totaled around 50 (see the photo to the right) so we were able to get to the Gallatin/Sunnyside riverbanks as well. And the volume of garbage collected continued to increase with zero injuries...
BUT WE WEREN'T DONE YET IN DONORA...
On Monday morning, May 22, Evan of Allegheny CleanWays returned to Donora along with a couple of historical society volunteers, to handle a few hard-to-get tires and barrels of questionable content (see the photo to the right - a blue plastic barrel was wrapped in a tarp to minimize an oozing substance) on a hard-to-reach riverbank. After working with the Donora Fire Department and Donora Street crew, we determined that the contents weren't hazardous. After we were able to relocate the barrels by boat to an easier place on the riverbank, the Donora Street crew picked them up with a front loader to dispose of properly.
NEW EAGLE RIVERFRONT CLEANUP
On Wednesday evening, May 24, some of us even volunteered for the New Eagle riverfront cleanup out of the Tubby Hall Riverfront Park in New Eagle. By this time, a 30-yard dumpster (see the photo to the right) was summoned and filled to the top with the garbage collected in just Donora and Monongahela. A smaller group of us worked the New Eagle and Forward Township riverbanks before Allegheny CleanWays would continue their journey north to Pittsburgh. Again, more garbage collected and no injuries.
OUR OTHER OBJECTIVE - YOUTH EDUCATION
But trash cleanup was only one of our objectives for this event. The other was Youth Education. We felt it was important to educate the next generation on the importance of what we were trying to accomplish with Allegheny CleanWays.
On Wednesday morning, May 24, nineteen students (grades 6-8) and three teachers from Madonna Catholic Regional School of Monongahela met us at the dock at Tubby Hall Riverfront Park in New Eagle. Looking to earn some community service hours, they boarded the new Allegheny CleanWays aluminum work boat and spent a couple of hours, touring the river, doing a couple of riverfront cleanups and learning about the importance of their environment. In the photo to the right, the Madonna Catholic attendees are shown on the cleanup boat with Allegheny CleanWays Water-Based Program Coordinator Hannah Hohman at the far end in orange captaining the boat.
On Thursday afternoon, May 25, six youths and two counselors from the Mon Valley Youth & Teen Association of Donora met us at the dock at Tubby Hall Riverfront Park in New Eagle to board the Allegheny CleanWays Rachel Carson pontoon boat (see the photo to the left) for an environmentally based river educational program provided byHannah of Allegheny CleanWays. We discussed the importance of keeping our environment clean and were able to cruise past the old Mitchell Power Station (see the photo below on the right - upper), an old, beached WWII era boat and old abandoned barges stacked on top of each other (see the photo below on the right - lower.) This group was originally scheduled to board the boat in Donora on Saturday morning, May 20, but we were rained out. In the photo to the left, the Mon Valley Youth & Teen attendees are shown on the Tubby Hall dock with Allegheny CleanWays Water-Based Program Coordinator Hannah Hohman (orange shirt) and her mascot dog Barley. They are also shown on the Rachel Carson pontoon boat in the photo below - second from the right.
Madonna Catholic Regional School students and teachers are shown in the two photos below to the left engaging in their riverfront cleanup activities.
PAYING IT FORWARD - SUPPORTING OUR PARTNERS
When we were seeking foundation grants (see our sponsors at the end of this page), we did so with the anticipation that we would partner with Allegheny CleanWays who would be given a donation for their time, effort and expertise. Once we finally had our Donora Riverfront Cleanup, we quickly realized that we could not have had a successful event without Allegheny CleanWays and their extensive community of volunteers. Their enthusiasm, friendliness and determination made for a special experience for all involved. As promised, we were able to catch up with Allegheny CleanWays on their final cleanup of their three week sojourn at Duck Hollow on Friday, June 9, 2023, directly across the river from the Waterfront in Homestead. We were part of the christening festivities of their new shuttle/trash boat, named K&B after their donors, and presented them with a donation check from the Donora Historical Society which Hannah and Evan gladly accepted (see the photo to the right with Hannah Hohman, Evan Clark and Myrna Newman).
DONORA RIVERFRONT CLEANUP video
HELP US CONTINUE THE EFFORT
If you see trash, do your part and pick it up. If it's your trash, throw it away properly. 
In the end and in remembrance of the 1948 Smog victims, we think we made an impact in our community and with our youth and improved Donora by just a little bit. We hope that we inspire others to protect our environment and think of other ways to keep it clean.
June 14, 2023
1948 SMOG PRESENTATION FOR
American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)Pittsburgh Section
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) - Pittsburgh Section visited the SMOG MUSEUM on Wednesday, June 14 to learn more about our area's environmental history. Twenty members (see photos below), along with three of our guests including a PhD student from the University of Georgia, spent the morning in Donora for a lengthy overview of the 1948 Smog, along with a Q&A on Donora's infamous smog event and a tour of the museum. A lunch followed at the Early Bird Diner just down the street.
Industrial Hygiene is the science and art of keeping workers and communities healthy and safe from workplace hazards.
Industrial Hygienists are the guardians of workers' health and safety in various workplaces and environments. Industrial Hygienists were sent to Donora shortly after the 1948 Smog to study what went wrong and why people died.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) is an international organization that was officially formed at the June 1939 meeting of the American Association of Industrial Physicians and Surgeons and is made up of more than 10,000 members from every industry worldwide who are dedicated to health and safety in the workplace, community, and environment. 
The Pittsburgh Section is part of the national American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and was also founded in 1939. The original interim bylaws of the national AIHA gave their board of directors the power to foster the formation of local groups and admit new members. The fledgling national AIHA appointed a committee, chaired by Gordon G. Harrold, to conquer the task of developing local sections in key industrial centers in the United States. Pittsburgh was one of those key industrial centers, Pittsburgh was an industrial giant in the steel, coal mining, glass, railroad, and coke industries. Pittsburgh’s scientists had a history of contributing important, practical research to the growing industrial health and occupational toxicology communities. A core group of industrial hygienists interested in forming a section included F. R. Holden, H. H. Schrenk, and E. C. Barnes who represented the Western Pennsylvania portion of the local section committee formed by the national AIHA. Ultimately, H.H. Schrenk was the first chairman in 1939 and was sent to Donora to study our 1948 smog event.
The Industrial Hygienists that participated in this event represented some of the leading companies and organizations in Western Pennsylvania, such as National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Watco Companies, FirstEnergy Corporation, PPG, FedEx Ground and Amazon (see the photo above and to the right and the photo below.)
In the photo above is a group of AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL HYGIENISTS ASSOCIATION members on their visit to the Smog Museum. 
September 22, 2023
THE KEYSTONE
News Article
The Keystone is a Pennsylvania news outlet by and for Pennsylvania and is owned and operated by Courier Newsroom, a civic media company with eight state-based newsrooms. Their mission is to protect and strengthen our democracy through credible, fact-based journalism that seeks to create a more informed, engaged, and representative America.
Keystone reporter Ashley Adams contacted the Donora Historical Society to learn more about the 1948 Smog for her article The Donora Smog Tragedy: The Deadly Air Pollution Incident in Pennsylvania That Helped Shape An Environmental Movement.
September 26, 2023
1948 SMOG PRESENTATION FOR
BATTLE OF HOMESTEAD
VIRTUAL and IN PERSON
The Battle of Homestead is an educational nonprofit promoting Western Pennsylvania’s vibrant industrial and labor history starting with the 1892 Homestead Steel Strike and connecting with current labor issues involving economics, the environment, healthcare, racism and other social concerns.
Their MissionThe Battle of Homestead Foundation (BHF) is a diverse organization of citizens, workers, educators and historians. Their purpose is to memorialize the dramatic labor conflict of the 1892 Battle of Homestead and clarify the consequences that remain with us today. Inspired by that event, they promote a people’s history, empower today’s workforce and build strategies for the future of work. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, at 7:30 p.m.
The Battle of Homestead Foundation presents a free Zoom program "The 1948 Donora Smog Disaster – 75th Anniversary" presented by Brian Charlton of the Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum.
The 90-minute program with audience Q&A explores the events leading up to the October 1948 onset of intense smog that settled over the town of Donora, Pennsylvania, a Monongahela River mill town 24 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The toxic air conditions killed 20 people and caused severe respiratory problems for 6,000 of the 14,000 people living in the town. The Donora Smog remains one of the worst environmental disasters in American history, yet it had the positive effect of raising widespread awareness of dangers caused by industrial air pollution ... an awareness that would eventually lead to state and federal laws protecting our air, earth and water.
On September 10, 2023, the Tribune-Review publicized this event with an article that you can read here: Historical society, author will mark 75th anniversary of Donora smog disaster. 
This hybrid online and in person event was successfully hosted by the Battle of Homestead Foundation for a total of 102 attendees (90 online and 12 in person).
You can view the 90-minute event here: Battle of Homestead Foundation - 1948 Donora Smog Disaster – 75th Anniversary Program.
The photo to the left shows the in-person presentation at the Smog Museum.
On September 29, 2023, reporter Paul Paterra of the Observer-Reporter summarized this event with an article that you can read here: Donora smog disaster discussed as 75th anniversary nears.
PAYING IT FORWARD - SUPPORTING OUR PARTNERS
When we were seeking foundation grants (see our sponsors at the end of this page), we did so with the anticipation that we would partner with the Battle of Homestead Foundation. As it turned out, they coordinated the hybrid webinar mentioned above.
On Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at their weekly meeting at the Eat'n Park at the Waterfront of Homestead, the Donora Historical Society was able to present them with a donation to show our appreciation for letting us tell the 1948 Smog story. The photo on the right is at the Eat'n Park. The photo on the right is President John Haer and Treasurer Rosemary Trump after the check presentation.
October 4, 2023
1948 SMOG PRESENTATION FOR
WASHINGTON & JEFFERSON COLLEGE
On October 4, 2023, Washington & Jefferson College Environmental Studies' professor Dr. Robert East brought his Introduction to Environmental Studies students to the Smog Museum to learn about the 1948 Smog. This course is an introductory-level overview of social, economic, and ecological principles and practices that affect the natural and human-built environments.
The class arrived in the afternoon for a 1948 Smog presentation, Q&A and pizza from Marty's Pizza - a Donora pizzeria. After the presentation and tour of the Smog Museum, a driving tour of the industrial park capped off the day to see where the steel mill and zinc works once stood.
Dr. East is a frequent visitor and proud supporter of the Donora Historical Society.
The photo to the left shows Dr. East and his Washington & Jefferson students at the Smog Museum during their tour.
The photo to the right shows Dr. East and his Washington & Jefferson students on their driving tour of Donora's Industrial Park that finished at the Andrew Posey Memorial.
October 6, 2023
Pittsburgh's Action News 4 - WTAE Visit
On October 4, WTAE News Reporter Lily Bradley contacted the Smog Museum to set up a visit to learn more about the 1948 Smog. On Friday, October 6, Lily Bradley and her colleague, Photojournalist Dave O'Neil stopped in the morning for about 1.5 hours to conduct their interviews.
In the photo to the right, the Pittsburgh's Action News 4 WTAE Weather Traffic/Weather SUV made a stop at the Smog Museum on Friday morning, October 6.

WTAE Reporter Lily Bradley and Photojournalist Dave O'Neil are shown in the Smog Museum to start the interviewing process in the photo to the left.
WTAE Reporter Lily Bradley and Photojournalist Dave O'Neil are shown in the Smog Museum in the photo to the right interviewing Donora Historical Society volunteer Brian Charlton who represented Donora and answered multiple interview questions about that fateful week 75 years ago.
WTAE Reporter Lily Bradley and Photojournalist Dave O'Neil are shown in the Smog Museum interviewing Rostraver Township Historical Society volunteer Stuart Boyd in the photo to the left.
Since the 1948 Smog impacted both Donora and Webster, we thought a representative from the other side of the Mon River should also be interviewed so we contacted Rostraver Township Historical Society volunteer Stuart Boyd to speak for Webster. Not only is Boyd a Smog Survivor but his step-grandfather Milton Hall was a Smog victim.
ARTICLE and VIDEO
The 3-minute segment aired on Thursday, October 26, 2023. If you missed it, you could read the article and view the video here - October marks 75th anniversary of deadly Donora Smog incident.
October 11, 2023
1948 SMOG PRESENTATION FOR
CENTER FOR COALFIELD JUSTICE
VIRTUAL and IN PERSON
The Center for Coalfield Justice visited the SMOG MUSEUM on Friday, May 12 to learn more about our area's environmental history. Ten employees (see photo below) spent an afternoon in Donora for a lengthy overview of the 1948 Smog and stimulating discussion on who the Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) is and what they do, along with a tour of the museum, a lunch and Q&A on Donora's infamous smog event.
CCJ is a women-owned environmental justice non-profit from Washington, Pa. fighting for a clean environment and healthy communities in Washington and Greene Counties.
Their MissionTo improve policy and regulations for the oversight of fossil fuel extraction and use; to educate, empower and organize coalfield residents; and to protect public and environmental health.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 11, at 6:00 p.m.
The Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) presented a free Zoom program "Donora Smog's lasting impact on Pennsylvania and the country 75 years later!" presented by Brian Charlton of the Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum.
CCJ partnered with the Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum for a webinar to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Donora Smog and discuss its lasting influence on the Clean Air Act of 1963 and environmental policy in the US. The deadly smog of 1948 was one of the worst air pollution disasters in history, killing 21 people and causing health issues for thousands more in the Monongahela Valley in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Donora Historical Society will present on the 1948 Donora Smog Disaster, highlight items within their collection, and discuss the social-historical context in Donora at the time.
After the presentation, there was a roundtable discussion with CCJ partners about their organizations and a reflection on the Clean Air Act's past, present, and future in relation to their organization's work.
This hybrid online and in person event was successfully hosted by the Center For Coalfield Justice for a total of 40 attendees (37 online and 3 in person).
You can view the 130-minute event here: Center For Coalfield Justice - 1948 Donora Smog Disaster – 75th Anniversary Program - 130 or 120-minute event here: Center For Coalfield Justice - 1948 Donora Smog Disaster – 75th Anniversary Program - 120.
PRESENTERS:
SARAH MARTIKExecutive DirectorCenter For Coalfield Justice, Washington, Pennsylvania
Sarah Martik is the Executive Director of the Center For Coalfield Justice (CCJ). CCJ works to improve policy and regulation for the oversight of fossil fuel extraction and use; to educate, empower and organize coalfield residents; and to protect public and environmental health.
RYAN CLOVER-OWENS Writer, Web Developer, Webinar HostHalt the Harm Network
Ryan Clover-Owens will facilitate the roundtable discussion. Ryan works with Halt the Harm Network providing digital campaign support to leaders in the network. Halt the Harm Network is a U.S.-based directory of leaders working to protect their communities from coal and gas harms.
BRIAN CHARLTONDonora Historical Society and Smog Museum
Brian Charlton is a retired teacher, historian, archivist and curator at the Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum. He will discuss the history of Donora and provide context about the Donora Smog's immediate and long term impacts on the town.
TITLE: The 1948 Donora Smog Disaster
The Donora Works of American Steel and Wire Company stretched nearly three miles along the Monongahela River thirty miles south of Pittsburgh. Within the industrial complex, that employed over eight thousand, were Blast Furnaces, Open Hearths, a Blooming Mill, Rod Mill, Wire Works, Nail Mill, Acid Plant and the largest Zinc Works in the world. The red, black, white and yellow smoke pouring from the Works frequently forced streetlamps and headlights to burn twenty-four hours a day. As the week before Halloween 1948 began the people of Donora were focusing on a parade, a football game, "Trick or Treat" and a national election. No one could know that a severe temperature inversion had settled over the valley. By Wednesday visibility was as limited as anyone could remember, plus many people were having difficulty breathing. The effluent from the mill that was typically carried away by prevailing wind currents reached the ceiling of the inversion and fell back to earth in the stagnant atmosphere. The weekend was a nightmare. Thousands were ill, hundreds needed medical attention, and by Monday morning twenty-one were dead. The Donora Smog Disaster was a wakeup call to years of ignoring the deadly effects of industrial pollution. The incident sparked a conflict that continues to shape the political and economic debate, not only in the United States but, around the world, between industrial and economic interests and pioneers for the protection of the environment and public health.
JO BANNERCo-Founder and Co-DirectorThe Descendants Project, Louisiana
Jo Banner is a Co-Founder and Co-Director of The Descendents Project, an organization committed to healing and flourishing Black descendent communities in Louisiana river parishes - communities that have a history of enslavement, settler colonialism, and environmental degradation.
KT MORELLICampaign OrganizerBreathe Free Detroit, Detroit, Michigan
KT Morelli is a Campaign Organizer for Breathe Free Detroit. Breathe Free Detroit worked for years to shut down a major Detroit trash incinerator. KT and others at Breathe Free Detroit are now pursuing zero waste strategies and a just transition for former incinerator workers and for residents living near the facility.
PAYING IT FORWARD - SUPPORTING OUR PARTNERS
When we were seeking foundation grants (see our sponsors at the end of this page), we did so with the anticipation that we would partner with the Center For Coalfield Justice. As it turned out, they coordinated the webinar mentioned above.
On Saturday, October 14, 2023, at their annual fundraiser at Washington Park in Washington Pennsylvania, the Donora Historical Society was able to present them with a donation to show our appreciation for letting us tell the 1948 Smog story to their partners in Detroit, Louisiana and New York. The photo on the left is the grand stone pavilion at Washington Park. The photo on the right is Donora Historical Society volunteer Mark Pawelec with CCJ Executive Director Sarah Martik shortly after the check presentation.
October 23, 2023
NEXTpittsburgh's Visit
News Article
NEXTpittsburgh, a locally-owned digital media company, is the must-read Pittsburgh publication about the people driving change in our city and the innovative and cool things happening here. They publish stories with impact, focused on the people, projects and places taking Pittsburgh to the next level, making it a better place for all. From news you need to know to challenges facing our region to what you can do to make a difference and get better connected.
After talking to Donora Death Fog author Andy McPhee, NEXTpittsburgh's Chief Reporter Roman Hladio contacted and met with the Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum mid-September to do an article for the Donora smog's 75th anniversary with a focus on how the world has changed over that span of time and also how, in some instances, Donora's story is incorrectly told or understood. Hladio's article is titled After 75 years, ‘willful ignorance’ remains the Donora Smog’s lasting fallout and can be read here.
October 28, 2023
1948 SMOG PRESENTATION FOR
C.F. Reynolds Medical History Society Visit
The C.F. Reynolds Medical History Society is a Pittsburgh-based medical history and humanities organization that hosts free public monthly lectures and promotes the study of the history of medicine and the medical humanities. They welcome historians, medical students and professionals, and members of the general public and academic communities with an interest in medical history.
Their visit was organized by their Secretary, Dr. Kristen Ann Ehrenberger, MD, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a historian of medicine and public health in modern Europe and North America and completed her residency training in Internal Medicine-Pediatrics at UPMC.

In the photo to the above right is Dr. Eugene Myers, MD, Distinguished Professor and Emeritus Chair, Otolaryngology, Dental Medicine, & OMFS, University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Kristen Ann Ehrenberger, MD, PhD and John Zanardelli, MPH of the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences department.
C.F. Reynolds created a blog post about their visit that you can read here: Donora: Clean air started here.
October 30, 2023
1948 SMOG PRESENTATION FOR
Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine
News Article
Pennsylvania Heritage brings to life the compelling saga of Pennsylvania history through diverse, insightful stories spanning all periods, from ancient to contemporary, by leading authors in their fields and is published quarterly by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC), the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation, PHMC’s nonprofit partner. The magazine has been in publication since December 1974.
In April 2022, Peter Duratine, a writer for Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine visited the Donora Historical Society to learn more about the 1948 Smog. His article appeared in their magazine on October 30, 2023, in the 75th anniversary week of the six-day 1948 Donora Smog. Duratine's article is titled Gasping for Air: The Donora Smog Disaster and can be read here.
October 31, 2023
Pittsburgh's WPXI Channel 11 News - Visit
On Tuesday, October 31, WPXI News Reporter, Photojournalist and Westmoreland Bureau Chief Andrew Havranek contacted the Smog Museum to set up a visit to learn more about the 1948 Smog. Havranek stopped in the afternoon about 2:30 p.m. for about an hour to conduct his interview that would air at 6:15 p.m.
WPXI News Reporter and Photojournalist Andrew Havranek is shown in the Smog Museum in both photos interviewing Donora Historical Society volunteer Brian Charlton who represented Donora and answered multiple interview questions about that fateful week 75 years ago.

ARTICLE and VIDEO
The 3-minute segment aired on Tuesday, October 31, 2023. If you missed it, you could read the article and view the video here - This weeks mark 75 years since Donora Smog that killed 21 people.
November 1, 2023
ROW HOUSE CINEMA - LAWRENCEVILLE
RUMOR OF BLUE SKY
Rumor of Blue Sky is a documentary created by Janet Whitney and Andrew Maietta and produced in 2009 by Keystone Film Group. The PBS Documentary chronicles the 1948 Smog disaster through compelling remembrances of twenty-five elderly survivors, most of which are now deceased. Recounts one of the worst environmental tragedies in U.S. history and Donora's dramatic contribution to clean air legislation.
The Rumor of Blue Sky showing was held on November 1 at 8:25 p.m. at the Row House Cinema at 4115 Butler Street in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh to commemorate the 75th anniversary.
TRIB TOTAL MEDIA's TRIBLIVE reporter Jeff Himler contacted the Donora Historical Society on October 26, 2023, about the 1948 Smog and the Film screening next in 75th anniversary observance of deadly Donora smog disaster at the Row House Cinema.
In the photo to the left, Rumor of Blue Sky Director Andrew Maietta introduces the documentary to the crowd of around 40 people, some of which were from Donora and some of those had relatives in the film.
In the photo to the right, Rumor of Blue Sky starts with Smog Survivor Herb Edwards giving a lead into the start of the documentary.
In the photo to the left, Donora's first responders and heroes of the 1948 Smog, Bill Schempp and Jim Glaros are shown in the Rumor of Blue Sky documentary giving their accounts of their rescue efforts to go door-to-door with oxygen tanks to help those with breathing issues.
In the photo to the right, after the showing of the Rumor of Blue Sky documentary, Donora Historical Society volunteer Brian Charlton and Director Andrew Maietta respond to questions during a very robust Q&A session to conclude the evening.
December 4, 2023
1948 SMOG PRESENTATION FOR
MARAMA Visit
A MARAMA - Air Monitoring Training Committee Workshop group visited the SMOG MUSEUM on Monday, December 4 to learn more about our area's environmental history. Twenty members (see photo below) spent the evening in Donora for an overview of the 1948 Smog, along with a Q&A on Donora's infamous smog event and a tour of the museum.
We were contacted by Sean Nolan, the Acting Chief, Division of Air Monitoring for the Department of Environmental Protection and Bureau of Air Quality from Harrisburg about hosting a group attending the 2023 MARAMA Air Monitoring Training Committee Workshop in Pittsburgh, PA from Monday, December 4 to Thursday, December 7.
MARAMA is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association, Inc. and is a voluntary, non-profit association of ten state and local air pollution control agencies. MARAMA provides cost-effective approaches to regional collaboration by pooling resources to develop and analyze data, share ideas, and train staff to implement common requirements. The following State and Local governments are MARAMA members: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Philadelphia and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
Their Mission:MARAMA’s mission is to strengthen the skills and capabilities of member agencies and help them work together to prevent and reduce air pollution impacts in the Mid-Atlantic region.
In the photo above is a group of Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association Air Monitoring Training Committee Workshop group members on their visit to the Smog Museum. 
SPONSORS The following foundations and businesses helped fund the various events:
equitrans Midstream Foundation (Platinum level donor - business) - Canonsburg, PA 
The Heinz Endowments (Platinum level donor - business) - Pittsburgh, PA 
To Donate to the Donora Historical Society and Smog Museumplease use our PayPal option to the right.
If you would like to add a note along with your donation, please consider sending an email to:donorahistoricalsociety@gmail.com